Terrorism and Counterterrorism: An Introduction

What is the danger of terrorism, and how can the world respond effectively? This is an abridged version of the full course. Terrorism has gone from a persistent yet marginal security concern to one of the most important security problems of our day. There are few countries that do not suffer from some form of terrorism. Though many attempts at terrorism fail, some groups wage lengthy and bloody campaigns and, in exceptional cases, kill hundreds or even thousands in pursuit of their ends. This course on terrorism will explore the nuances involved in defining terrorism; the nature of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other important groups; the effectiveness of different counterterrorism tools; terrorist recruiting, counterterrorism and the rule of law; the political context in the Middle East; and the terrorist use of technology.

Course syllabus:

  1. Recall the working definitions of terrorism and recognize their analytic limits

  2. Identify a range of causes of terrorism

  3. Understand the strategies and tactics of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State

  4. Understand how counterterrorism is constrained in a democratic society and several important legal debates related to counterterrorism